Last week, National Novel Writing month kicked off on the 1st November.
This is a staple feature in the writer’s diet and is when writer’s across the world attempt to write a novel in 30 days.
So should you be participating in it this year? And when is it a good idea NOT to write a novel in a month?
I first came across NaNoWriMo two years ago and participated last year in 2015. It was the first time I had written a novel. And I did it in 30 days. I learnt so much and my most important takeaway was in building a writing habit.
No matter how good a writer you think you are, you can only get better the more you practise and write. The writer’s life is one of life-long learning. I think there are very few writer’s out there who feel they have their writing nailed.
Even big name authors like Stephen King still feel nervous before the launch of a new book! And the writer who writes daily is the writer who will get more experience and expertise under his belt.
So if I had such good experience of NaNoWriMo last year, why am I not participating in it this year?
Simply, put, I am focused on completing the edits for my current non-fiction book I am writing. I have now been working on my book for a year and the editing process is by far much more painful than the writing process! Every day is a learning journey on this author path.
One of my biggest concerns is of taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed again. I do not want my current book to be neglected and left half-finished.
An author is only an author if they FINISH the book they start and get it out to market.
It’s always easy to start a new project as its new, shiny and exciting. But success only lies on the other side of the finishing line. This requires grit, patience and determination to get to the finishing line. And this year I am making a conscious effort to finish what I started.
Success and growth can only be accessed once you cross the finish line.
So here are the reasons for why I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo this year (although I will still be following along with the latest news):
- At this current point in time, I need to focus all my time, energy and efforts onto completing the editing for my book. I am aiming to launch by the end of the year and that gives me 8 weeks to get an another content edit, line edit and proofread done.
- I need to submit my changes to the editor and review her feedback. This will take time (and as I am learning, editing takes a lot more time than I had anticipated!).
- I don’t want any more distractions than I already have (social media, maintaining the blog, writing, editing, building a creative business, learning about writing and the business side of writing and not to mention life in general!). Writing a book is a lot of work and takes up a lot of energy. As a result, I want to be smart about how I use my time and energy.
- I don’t want to start yet another project and then have it sitting on my to-do list for weeks (or months) on end.
- I only want to do NaNoWriMo when I know I am 100% committed to the process, not 98% committed. You got to be all in or out. Make a decision to commit.
- It’s sensible to plan out what you will be writing before you start NaNoWriMo and I didn’t have any particular or specific ideas as to what I wanted to write about. So I didn’t want to write a novel for the sake of it. I want to spend some time thinking about the world and characters I want to bring to life when I start fiction writing. But for right now, I need to focus on writing, editing and publishing the book I am working on now. (However, you can still use NaNoWriMo to complete other types of writing projects including non- fiction).
But here are a few reasons as to why you may want to participate in NaNoWriMo:
- It’s a great way to push yourself to write to a deadline and hit daily targets
- It will help to instil a daily writing practice if you commit to writing something every day
- It’s fun to see the world you have created being poured onto the page and not knowing where the story will take you!
- After a month of writing, you will have written a substantial amount of words which will boost your self-esteem and confidence in writing. Although I didn’t hit the 50,000 words target, I did write 30,000 words which for me is a lot! I am so proud of what I achieved in a month. I still have my novel from last year and will think about how I can revamp it or bring it back to life as it is not edited or published. Perhaps that could be my entry point into creative fiction (it was a cosy murder mystery and I had great fun writing it!).
- You have a great community of other writers that can you lean on for support and make new friends
- It’s a great way to practise your writing. The aim is to get to a first draft. Not a perfect book. So play and have some fun!
Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year?